Out on your own, not out on a limb

The Independent Traveller's World aims to prepare free spirits for the unexpected. By Simon Calder

Travel is terrifying. You get ill, lose your passport and money, and feel lonely - and that's just on the Gatwick Express. More seriously, events this week have brought home the chilling reality behind some of the seductive images of travel: the disappearance of a British backpacker in Thailand, and the kidnapping of two tourists in Costa Rica have concentrated the minds of intending travellers. The world beyond the glossy brochures is a perplexing place; "independent" need not imply "intrepid", but sometimes it feels as if it does.

"We are in the business of allaying fears, offering advice and, most important, providing encouragement," says Helen Caldwell, who launched the first Independent Traveller's World at Bristol's Watershed Media Centre in 1993. Since then it has expanded considerably, but remains a celebration of the sort of world that goes unrecognised by high-street travel agencies. Whether you seek reassurance or merely insurance, the Watershed will become a real travellers' souk over the weekend of 19 to 21 February. Overland truck operators, travel publishers and discount ticket agencies will be vying for the hearts and passports of an estimated 6,000 travellers.

The idea that planning a trip should be as exciting as talking about it afterwards was developed jointly by Helen Caldwell and her partner Mark Renwick. The beauty of it, he says, is that "you can arrive with nothing but good intentions and depart with precise travel plans". People who have been there, done that and have the photos (and bruises) to prove it will reveal the rewards and risks of cycling to Peking or canoeing the Amazon. In a programme of talks and workshops, recently returned travellers provide the latest on hot new destinations and cool travel tips. Then you can check out air fares, buy a guidebook or two, and find out what health precautions you need.

If a post-Christmas cashflow crisis has given you a nasty scare, Susan Griffith - author of Work Your Way Around the World - is on hand with advice about fish-packing in Iceland or teaching English in Peru.

For some, the most terrifying thing about travel in the late Nineties is the way that hi-tech seems to have hijacked it. So Mark Ellingham, founder of the Rough Guides, will be taking travellers on a tour around the Internet, where the Rough Guide to the USA now resides, constantly updated by travellers. And should the prospect of writing about travel frighten you more than the journey itself, a travel-writing workshop could put your mind at rest. One of the contributors is Rory McLean, who went on from winning an Independent travel-writing competition to become an established writer and broadcaster.

The Independent has been closely involved with the event from the outset, and the newspaper's travel team will again be represented at Bristol. "We see it as an excellent opportunity to meet travellers and the travel industry, and to get feedback from readers," says Harriet O'Brien, who edits these pages. "The event helps keep us sharp - at the cutting edge of travel journalism."

Like the Independent's travel coverage, the event seeks to prove than you need not be young, rich nor superhumanly fit to see the real world. Neither does it shirk from the dangers of travel - both to travellers, and to the planet. Equipment companies will be demonstrating water filters and protection against mosquitoes, while speakers focus on the need for cultural and environmental sensitivity among travellers.

The challenge of independent travel is not for everyone, and some visitors may find the main effect of the event is to deter them; better you find out on a winter weekend in Bristol than halfway up the Orinoco without a paddle. The rest of us can find inspiration, and take comfort from fellow travellers: this need not be the year of living dangerously.

Independent Traveller's World 1996

Bristol: Watershed Media Centre, 19-21 January. Admission on Friday is pounds 2; on Saturday and Sunday, pounds 3.50.

London: Business Design Centre, Islington, 9-11 February. Friday pounds 3, Saturday and Sunday pounds 5.

Edinburgh: Assembly Rooms, 54 George Street, 2-3 March. Admission pounds 3.50

Readers of the Independent and Independent on Sunday are entitled to a pounds 1 discount on the normal admission price for Saturday and Sunday by producing a copy of that day's newspaper. Call 0117-930 4440 or fax 0117- 987 2627 for more details of Independent Traveller's World events.

On the travel page of Section Two next Wednesday, Jeremy Skidmore of the industry journal Travel Weekly will be giving the inside track on the high-street travel wars.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

News
people
Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
News
news
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
voices
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam